Be calm in arguing, for fierceness makes error a fault and truth discourtesy – George Herbert.
Coherence in argumentation.
One of the painful signs of years of dumbed-down education is how many people are unable to make a coherent argument.
They can vent their emotions, question other people’s motives, make bold assertions, repeat slogans – anything except reason.”
– Thomas Sowell
It is the era of politics, and it is interesting listening to people of all sizes of intellectual sagacity marshall their points.
Opinions are like pebbles on a beach – everybody has one. There are the very convincing, the absolute fools, the intellectual hypocrites, imoartial commentators – all having their say – the social media giving everyone a voice.
I doubt that the ability to craft sound and convincing arguments is about education, as Thomas Sowell propounded above You do not necessarily need to have gone to school to be able to apply sound reasoning to any situation.
To me, incoherence in arguments is often a result of three possible factors:
(1) Inability to reason logically.
Having lectured logic in the past, and being a student of logic myself, it has become abundantly clear over the years that not everybody has that ability – irrespective of level of formal education. Some people would just not do well in logic.
Apparently, logicians (and great programmers!) are born!
(2) Intellectual dishonesty
There are very logical and intelligent people who are intellectually dishonest and would stand logic on its head to make arguments that appear unimpeachable on cursory look.
These ones are quick to quote statistics, produce web-links and other materials that support fallacies presented as facts.
Of course, pictures and figures can be made to lie eloquently,and if you looked hard enough, you can always find “proofs” that the sun sets in the West!
These folks, if they happen to be opinion_leaders, are dangerous, as they are so persuasive, and will easily sway the uninitiated to their way of reasoning, even when incorrect.
They are skilled in he use of red herrings, argumentum ad hominem and such other argumentative tactics that could easily throw you off your trajectory, if you are not watchful.
They can confuse you with ingenuous sophistry that you are a woman – even when your third leg is intact.
(3) The blond bats
The third class can only reason out of emotion, dogma or faith. They often show up in matters of religion or political discourse.
Presenting them with indubitable proofs does nothing to shift then from their standpoint, as their position is not predicated on logic or facts. It is based on emotion.
A man speaking out of emotions can’t be reasoned with. His submissions would be full of holes that he can never see until he purges himself of the temporary inebriation. His sense is under temporary suspension, and you would be wasting your time engaging him in any fruitful discussions or disputations.
In any argument or debate, once you recognise which category your adversary falls into, you can easily determine the method to adopt.
Sometimes, the better method is simply to stop the argument, and move on.
Personally, I love exercising my brain, so would pick very difficult positions, and apply intellectual dishonesty as well, and all the argumentative methods in the books to win.
Of course, I only do this as sport, and with willing “sparring partners”. It does wonders for an aging brain!